By JERILYN L. MORRIS
Special to the Chronicle
WASHINGTON–Lieut. Gen. Michael E. Langley will become the first Black four-star general in the U.S. Marine Corps’ 246-year history.
The U.S. Senate after the Senate confirmed his promotion this week.
Lieut. Gen. Langley will formally attain his new rank at a ceremony in Washington this weekend, according to a spokesman for the Marine Corps.
He will then become the new head of U.S. Africa Command at its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.
There, he will oversee about 6,000 troops.
President Joseph R. Biden Jr. nominated him in June.
In his confirmation hearing last month, Lieut. Gen. Langley thanked his father — who had served in the Air Force for 25 years — as well as his stepmother and two sisters.
“As many nominees have said in testimony before me, military families form the bedrock upon which our Joint Force readiness stands,” he said.
“Without their support, I would not be here today.”
The Marine Corps has had a handful of Black three-star generals, including Lieut. Gen. Langley, who was promoted to that rank last year.
Other Blacks have also earned four-star ranks in other branches, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a retired Army general.
A native of Shreveport, La., Lieut. Gen. Langley has served for 37 years, with tours of duty in Japan, Afghanistan and Somalia.
He was commissioned as a Marine artillery officer in 1985 and has commanded at every level — from platoons, which can have a few dozen members, to regiments, which can have several thousand troops.
His intellectual and physical prowess, combined with his mediation skills, has impressed his superiors over the years.
Retired Gen. Robert Neller, the former Marine commandant from 2015 to 2019, summed up Lieut. Gen. Langley’s reputation in the Marines in an interview with The Washington Post before his confirmation: “He gets stuff done and people tend to like working for him.”
At his new duty station, the then-Gen. Langley will come up against conventional and unconventional military challenges.
In Africa, the U.S. military is in a supporting role, helping African countries build up their forces and monitoring Russian and Chinese activities. Direct combat is uncommon. But resurgent terrorist groups such as al-Shabab are national security threats to the United States, while American troops have also suffered deadly attacks in recent years in Niger and Kenya.
Gen. Langley will also be tasked with helping African partners combat climate change, population growth and political instability.
Lieut. Gen. Langley acknowledged the hybrid nature of his mission in his confirmation hearing, telling senators that “military power alone” would not be enough.
“They require an integration of diplomatic efforts from Department of State, development endeavors from USAID, and comprehensive strategies from other allies and partners operating in Africa,” he said.